Transformative Justice

This course is an immersive experience. It meets for the full school day every day in the term.

This course explores contemporary topics in the prison abolition movement. It also provides an historic overview of the role of incarceration in the development of the modern world. Students learn how literature serves as a lifeline for incarcerated people and how literary expression is used as a vehicle for change. Students read the work of abolitionist poets, incarcerated writers, and volunteer with transformative justice organizations in the Philadelphia area. Workshops and trainings will include strategies in anti-violence organizing, grassroots publishing, and political advocacy. Field trips to Philadelphia and the surrounding areas help students understand the impact of mass incarceration on communities. Volunteer opportunities include shipping and packing books with Books Through Bars and supporting advocacy with Youth Art and Self-Empowerment Project and the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration. Students are expected to maintain a journal in which they take notes, write reflections, and imagine a gentle world. At the end of four weeks of coursework, volunteer work, and workshops, students take a four-day retreat to understand the role of self-care in activist work and begin to imagine their final projects. Then, in the final week of the course, students conduct research and complete a traditional essay or creative project to build on and respond to their learning experience. Students may also conceive an advocacy campaign that directly supports the work of an abolitionist organization.

Students earn 1 credit in history, 1 credit in English, and fulfill their service requirement. IB diploma candidates will be able to use this experience for their Creativity, Activity, and Service (CAS) project. This domestic-travel course requires parental consent.

This course is cross-listed as HIS980X (History) and ENG980X (English).

Min-Max Credit Hours: 2.0-2.0